Monthly Archives: February 2020

Citizenserve General Technical Features Q&A

The following questions were included in a formal Permitting and Land Management System Request for Information from a city of about 62,500 residents.  Read our responses below for general technical information about  Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

2.1.1. Describe your software licensing model.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is only offered on a subscription basis.

2.2.9. Provide details on what browsers, browser versions are supported and what Windows operating systems are supported.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is device and browser independent and can be used on any modern browser.

2.3     Servers and Databases

2.3.1. Describe the server environment required for your solution.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a multi-tenant cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution.  No server hardware or software is required.

2.3.2. Describe the server minimum specifications (e.g., OS, RAM) needed for each of the required servers.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a multi-tenant cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution.  No server hardware or software is required.

2.3.3. Describe the database versions, and patch levels supported as of January 2020. Include a sequence of preferred databases supported by the vendor based on the most stable and best performing platform for the solution.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a multi-tenant cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution.  No server hardware or software is required.  End users can use any device and any browser to access the software.

2.3.4. Describe any database CPU and memory resource requirements. Include an architectural diagram that illustrates the database architecture.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is only offered as a Software-as-a-Service solution; the City will not require additional hardware or databases. We do not share diagrams of our database architecture for security reasons.

2.3.5. What are the file standards for database server files?

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a multi-tenant cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution.  No server hardware or software is required.

2.3.7. Please provide any installation documentation or standard operating procedures.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is provided as a Software-as-a-Service solution; the Citizenserve staff maintain and support the application and database.

2.4     Integration and Service-Oriented Architecture

2.4.1. Describe the solution’s ability to support single sign-on using an on premise and cloud Active Directory to authenticate employees/users.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve supports the use of Active Directory for authentication and will provide integration to the City’s Active Directory for an additional fee.

2.4.2. Describe the solution’s import/export feature capability at the application level (above the database layer) and through the application interface.

Citizenserve Response: All reports can be exported to a CSV or PDF file format.  Imports are usually accomplished through SQL scripts and need to be customized based on requirements.

2.5     Software as a Service

2.5.1. Please describe in detail the company’s policy for handling the customer’s intellectual property.

Citizenserve Response: We only work with State and Local Government jurisdictions.  Customers own their data in all cases.

2.5.3. Describe the availability of metrics for the City of Redmond to measure consumption of services, such as bandwidth.

Citizenserve Response: The Citizenserve subscription includes unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited processing and unlimited support.  We can provide reports on data size or setup monitoring on the City IP address, but we do not use the information for billing purposes.

2.5.5. Describe the options available for exporting data from the SaaS solution for external interfaces.

Citizenserve Response: The City can request and obtain a copy of its data at any time and there is no charge to get a copy.  The copy is provided in Microsoft SQL Server format.

2.6.6. Provide the SLAs for system availability.

Citizenserve Response: From inception Citizenserve has been a pay-as-you-go subscription and a 99.99+% up-time has been maintained for 17 years.  Any customer recourse for unacceptable service is subscription cancellation.  We have never had a customer cancel a subscription based on system availability or performance.  Our customers are not locked in to multi-year contracts.

Web Services Q&A

The following questions were included in a formal Permitting and Land Management System Request for Information from a city of about 62,500 residents.  Read our responses below for more information about some of the Web Service features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

1.11   Web Services

1.11.1. Describe the capability to provide web-based self-services, including the ability to allow customers to submit, track, and pay for services (inspections/permit information for example) and access their respective information (i.e., permits, plan review, inspection) online.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve provides a configurable and customizable online portal that allows citizens, contractors, and businesses to participate electronically in the processes of permitting, code enforcement, inspections, licensing, and requests. The portal can be configured as a link off of the City’s website.

  • Planning and zoning applicants can submit applications, attach plan documents, check on the status of an application, and pay application fees through the online portal.
  • With Citizenserve permitting software your contractors, architects, engineers, and property owners can apply for a permit, upload digital plans, schedule an inspection, pay application fees, and check on the status of an application online.
  • Citizens can report possible code violations and check on the status through the online portal. You can communicate with your citizens effectively and efficiently by using Citizenserve’s automatic notifications, automated letters, and email templates.
  • The Citizenserve online portal enables businesses seeking licenses to submit applications, schedule an inspection, upload copies of required documents, pay application fees, check on the status of an application, and download approved License Certificates and ID cards through the portal.

One critical feature in Citizenserve is the ability to set User Notifications and Assignments for each permit, license, and case type so staff and departments are notified when citizens, contractors, and businesses take action on the portal. For example, if a staff member requests a revised plan document, the notification matrix will let the staff member know when the document is uploaded.

1.11.2. Does the solution allow custom branding (City of Redmond logo, for example)?

Citizenserve Response: Yes.

1.11.3. Describe the ability to generate online permits for simple projects that meet defined criteria including data validation.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve supports flexible workflows that incorporate data validation; we can easily configure a workflow for simple permits that generates the permit online based on specific data validation. If the City elects, the online portal can be configured to enable the contractor to download and print the permit.

1.11.5. Describe the integration into the solution including the ability to process multiple payments or partial payments for both permits and invoices.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve can collect a single payment and apply it across multiple permits and/or invoices. Partial payments can be configured as part of the payment process; for example, requiring plan check fees to be paid up front. Multiple payments can be applied and tracked, with custom reporting available to show detailed historical payment information at the invoice level, permit level, or both.

1.11.6. Does the payment solution allow for guest checkout options?

Citizenserve Response: This depends on the payment processor that the City decides to go with.  Most payment providers provide for a checkout process that does not require “registration” or an account with the specific payment provider.

Financial, Cashiering, Fee and Payment Processing Q&A

The following questions were included in a formal Permitting and Land Management System Request for Information from a city of about 62,500 residents.  Read our responses below for more information about some of the cashiering and financial features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

1.9     Finance

1.9.1. Describe the solution’s capabilities to create, manage, secure, and report (ad-hoc and scheduled) on financial transactions.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve enables the implementation of complex fee calculations, and the maintenance of fee schedules is included in the subscription. Fee schedules can be end dated. To enable payments, we integrate with a customer’s payment provider(s); we do not store credit card information. All data in the database is encrypted, and web services using HTTPS or TLS encryption with authentication are used for communicating with external systems like payment processors.

Payment information, accounts receivable information, and other financial information can be sent to the City’s financial system via a web services integration, or through the creation and upload of a daily batch file.

Citizenserve has a standard suite of financial reports. We will develop any custom report to meet the City’s requirements as part of Citizenserve’s unlimited support.

1.9.3. Describe how payments are processed and posted.

Citizenserve Response: We integrate with the City’s payment processor(s) and do not store credit card information. Successful payments are recorded in Citizenserve, and associated balance due fields are updated. Unsuccessful transactions are also logged for follow-up.

1.9.4. Describe the refund process.

Citizenserve Response: User roles can be set up to take and modify payments. For refunds, payments are reversed in Citizenserve; this data is then passed to the City’s financial system via an integration or report, and the City’s financial system would process the refund.

1.9.5. Describe any financial controls the system provides.

Citizenserve Response: There are various configuration options to implement business rules in Citizenserve.  Conditions are often used to enforce business rules; for example, payment must be made before a permit is issued.

https://www.citizenserve.com/business-licensing-software/citizenserve-online-cashiering-services/

1.9.6. Describe the period/year end closing processes and financial reporting capabilities. Provide a diagram where applicable to illustrate the end-to-end process.

Citizenserve Response: Period and year end closing processes will be handled in the City’s financial system. Citizenserve will integrate with the City’s financial system via web services to pass AR, payment, and refund information. We we can create any kind of custom reconciliation report for the GL and/or Refunds.

1.9.9. Describe the solution’s integration possibilities with Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Citizenserve Response: We can integrate with Microsoft Dynamics 365 using custom web services or any available APIs. Citizenserve’s technical architects will be responsible for developing the code to send data from Citizenserve or accept data into Citizenserve; if an API is not available, the City’s resources will be responsible for developing the code to send data from Microsoft Dynamics 365 or accept data into Microsoft Dynamics 365.

1.10   Impact Fees

1.10.1. Describe the capabilities to manage and track impact fees, credits, and payments.

Citizenserve Response: We have great flexibility in configuring impact fees to meet the business rules of our customers; there is no “one size fits all” approach. Examples of impact fee calculations include basing the impact fee on meter size, tying the calculation to entries made from checkboxes and/or drop-down lists, other automatic calculations, or manual entries by staff. Staff can add credits to a customer’s impact fee, or credits can be calculated based on overpayments (if overpayments are allowed); credits can be carried on the permit and applied to the next payment.

1.10.2. Describe the capabilities for spatial integrated functionality for tracking impact fee information in specific geographic area.

Citizenserve Response: An unlimited number of custom fields can be created for properties and permits.  The fee table for each permit type can easily incorporate the custom fields into fee definitions with no programming.  Impact fees can be based on anything on the permit application or any property information.  Typically, property information will contain the necessary information about the location or GIS integration will provide the relevant information necessary for impact fee calculation.

Citizenserve e-Government Software Development Services – Q&A

The following questions were included in a formal Permitting and Land Management System Request for Information from a city of about 62,500 residents.  Read our responses below for more information about some of the Development Services features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

1.3.1. Provide a simple diagram or outline of the permitting system process. The diagram should depict the end-to-end range of a permit lifecycle from the pre-application process, permit fees, plan review, building permit fees, issuing permits, inspections, through the final approval and certificate of occupancy.

Citizenserve Response: Permits, licenses, case types, and file types in Citizenserve can be configured in a variety of ways.  This flexibility is necessary, as Citizenserve is used by hundreds of jurisdictions for various types of permitting, licensing, inspections and enforcement.  The following short demonstration provides an overview of an example permit process:

https://www.citizenserve.com/portfolio-view/permitting-overview/

1.3.2. Describe your solution’s capability to accept and review plans, issue development related permits, and track inspections.

Citizenserve Response: Citizens, contractors, and businesses can work electronically with the City through the online portal.  Uploading plan documents, reviewing markups and comments, requesting inspections, reviewing inspection results, etc. can all be accomplished electronically.  Citizenserve has a built-in browser and device independent markup and comment tool.  Below are some short video demonstrations related to submitting plans and plan review:

https://www.citizenserve.com/portfolio-view/permitting-overview/

https://www.citizenserve.com/portfolio-view/permit-inspections/

https://www.citizenserve.com/portfolio-view/online-permit-applications/

1.3.3. Describe the functionality for reminder and or expirations for development processes. Describe the ability to set alerts based on business rules to ensure deadlines for time in possession and business commitments are maintained.

Citizenserve Response: The workflow review routes can all be set up with timeframes and overdue activities are displayed on a user’s home page.  Workflow routes are supported for all development, permit and license application types.  Metrics can also be set up to track and identify overdue timeframes.  Here’s a short video demonstration on workflow routes:

https://www.citizenserve.com/portfolio-view/workflow-routing/

1.3.4. Describe your solution’s processing for duplicating a repetitive process and “cloning” permits.

Citizenserve Response: Permits in Citizenserve are configured with custom fields that make up the application form.  The information in the custom forms varies so we usually set up a custom process to copy a permit type into a new permit application.  In our support framework this is usually called a “report”, but it is really an interactive feature that does some processing.  The creation of unlimited reports like this is included in the subscription.  These are usually most helpful in a master plan community where developers may use a master permit type to create new permit applications for similar projects.

1.3.5. Describe your solution’s capability to link all projects on a specific parcel, address, and/or a large development in order to track dependencies and history.

Citizenserve Response: All development, permit, license, case, and file types can be linked to a property or set of properties.  When reviewing a property any file types are displayed, so everything about a location is in the property view.  When looking at a project, all permits on that project are available; for example, when looking at a contractor, all of the contractor’s projects are displayed.

1.3.6. Describe your solution’s capability to manage and monitor Historic Preservation processes including demolition permits.

Citizenserve Response: Historic Preservation processes and demolition permits are just different permit application types owned by their respective departments with their own interdepartmental workflows.  Citizenserve is a flexible solution for special permit types and processes.

 1.3.7. Describe any limitations to the number of different plan reviews or permits that your solution can handle.

Citizenserve Response: An unlimited number of permit types can be configured in the system with an unlimited number of custom fields per application.  An unlimited number of plan review workflow routes can be set up for each permit type with an unlimited number of activity types and workflow steps.

1.3.8. Does your solution differentiate between a plan review and a permit?

Citizenserve Response: Yes, file types can be configured as Development Projects or Permit/Building Projects.  These can be configured at the Organization, Department, and Sub-department level; so Public Works for example can have their own Development Projects that are separate from the Building Departments’ Development Project Types.

1.3.9. Describe the solution’s capabilities to reference ordinances and building codes, and other regulations, i.e., state statutes. Provide a description of how this information is loaded and updated.

Citizenserve Response: Setting up codes and ordinances is included in the initial setup and implementation.  Updating codes and ordinances is included in the unlimited support.  The administrative features in the software are easy to use, so departments can also update their respective codes and ordinances without submitting a support request, if desired.

1.3.10. Describe the solution’s ability to integrate with the Washington State Labor and Industries system for the purposes of validating Contractor licenses.

Citizenserve Response: Since Redmond already uses Citizenserve for business licensing we may already have established this integration.  Generally, a http link built into the system as a custom field is an easy way to make a lookup into another system that is available through the internet or a http request.

1.3.11. Describe the solution’s ability to integrate with Business License management applications, such as Citizenserve.

Citizenserve Response: The City is using Citizenserve for business licensing so it there is no need to integrate with Citizenserve.

1.4     Resource Management

1.4.1. Describe the solution’s ability to optimize and plan inspections routes. Elaborate on the capability to manage assignments based on geographic location leveraging GPS/AVL technology, skills certifications, workload, and priority.

Citizenserve Response: Inspection scheduling processes in Citizenserve are highly customizable.  The Citizenserve subscription includes unlimited support, which includes the creation of interactive custom reports that can perform processing.  Some of our customers have complex rules for optimizing activities like inspections and the interactive custom reports with processing provide ultimate flexibility in implementing and refining process improvements.  The following video demonstration provides an overview of the general inspection features:

https://www.citizenserve.com/portfolio-view/permit-inspections/